US government still wants NGO case dismissed

The United States said it was still asking Egypt to drop charges against US and other democracy activists, who were able to fly out of the country after the judiciary lifted a travel ban, said Spokesperson for the US Department of State Victoria Nuland in a press briefing on Friday.

The State Department said that 13 people charged in the foreign-funded NGO's case have departed Egypt, including six Americans from the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute and seven from other nationalities.

One charged American decided to stay in Egypt.

On Thursday the US posted bail for the seven, as well as nine other Americans charged in the case who had already left Egypt. It was set at US$300,000 for each of the 16, or $4.8 million.

Asked if it was the US government or the NGOs that paid the bail, Nuland said, "We discussed this issue of bail with the NGOs and we made arrangements with them so that the legal expenses associated with this incident would be treated as part of the activities that the US government funds. “

"The NGOs paid the bail out of the money they received from the US government,” she added.

Asked if US taxpayers would see the money back now that the defendants have left Egypt, Nuland told reporters that the US wanted a complete end to the case.

"We will continue to work with the Egyptian government to see if we can get this case dismissed, not only for our people but also for the Egyptians, because we think this case was unwarranted from the beginning," she said.

"These groups ended up in this situation because they were trying to do democracy promotion work, which they do in 70 countries all over the world," she said.

Asked if the NGO workers would return to Egypt to face the charges, Nuland said the decision concerned them and their lawyers. She added that as a general principle in the US, a defendant who pays bail should return to face the charges brought against him/her.

Nuland said the US wants the situation resolved as a legal matter so that all NGOs can register, including the Egyptian ones, and continue their important work.

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